Dino-sore! Ageing dinosaur suffered from arthritis
A dinosaur in the latter years of its life suffered from a form of arthritis, scientists have found.
Examining the remains of the late Cretaceous herbivorous dinosaur Gobihadros mongoliensis, researchers at the University of Silesia and the Polish Academy of Science’s Institute of Paleobiology discovered traces of abnormal calcium deposits in some of its bones.
The presence of the disease, combined with its large size suggests that the dinosaur was in its advanced years and the disease would have been responsible for causing restriction and pain in the joint areas of the affected bones.
CT scans revealed that the dinosaur suffered from calcium pyrophosphate crystals which caused joint stiffness.
Posting on Twitter, Justyna Słowiak from the Institute said: “The bones of a senile dinosaur revealed that old dinosaurs suffered from joint pains, as do people in advanced age.”
She added: “This is the first time that CPPD (a disease caused by calcium pyrophosphate crystals) has been found in dinosaurs.
“CPPD often affects people over the age of 55. At the age of 70-80, 20 percent of the population suffer from it.”
CPPD is a form of arthritis that causes pain, stiffness, tenderness, redness, warmth and swelling (inflammation) in some joints.
To date, the physiology of ageing and growth of dinosaurs has only been studied to a limited extent.
Dr. Tomasz Szczygielski from the Institute of Paleobiology said: “Dinosaurs in the reptile family tree are close to birds, but some of their characteristics, such as metabolism, refer to mammals.
“That is why it is still difficult for us to interpret how these organisms aged.
“We know dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago, but we don't know why crocodiles and turtles survived.
“The more we know about physiology, the closer we are to interpreting why some organisms survived and others went extinct.”
The research now opens up opportunities for further investigations regarding the body's fight against a specific disease.
The scientists say that in the future it will be possible to design machines that imitate the behaviour of the body fighting the disease.
The dinosaur remains with visible traces of CPPD can be viewed at the recently opened exhibition 'How dinosaurs aged' at the Museum of Evolution at the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw.
The study 'Osteopathology in the fossil record as a carrier of palaeoecological and palaeoepidemiological information', was published in Scientific Reports.